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Monday, December 11, 2006

Incoming Episcopal Bishop for Southern Ohio Is OK with Gay Marriage

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The newly elected leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio says he personally supports gay marriage but will not attempt to push his own views on the church or the public. The Rev. Tom Breidenthal is from Princeton, New Jersey and will be formally installed at a consecration ceremony in Columbus next April. The diocese includes 30,000 people and covers 40 counties.

Breidenthal, who once considered becoming a poet and lived in an Oregon organic farming commune before becoming a clergyman, detailed his views about gay marriage in the Interchange, a monthly newspaper published by the diocese he will soon head. He also said he plans to be more aggressive in carrying the church's message to Ohio college campuses,

''I have thought long and hard about the question of same-sex unions and I have arrived at a settled theological conviction about it, which is that the church should pronounce God's blessing on such unions. But that is my own conviction. I'm not prepared to use my position to act independently on this issue," Breidenthal said. ''I fear that sometimes the same-sex union debate is framed between those who have a high regard for scripture and those who look elsewhere for authority. That is not how I would frame the debate. The debate needs to occur on the ground of scripture and our understanding of the church's mission. I expect us to be talking about that, probably a lot."

He also said he is going to beef up the church's efforts on Ohio's college campuses. ''There are so many campuses in the diocese that it seems a natural call for me,'' Breidenthal said, adding that there is a ''real stirring in the national church to make up for lost ground in this ministry."

Episcopal church membership has not been growing in recent years, and some churches have been breaking away because they believe the denomination has become too liberal on social issues. He has a lot of colleges to work in -- Ohio State University, Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio University are all in Breidenthal's turf.

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